Santa Cruz teens qualify for national battle of the bands competitionThe four local teens who make up Almost Chaos will get their second chance to take home the gold at this weekend’s SchoolJam USA Battle of Bands competition. The band will travel with their families to Disneyland to participate in the annual competition for the second time since 2010. Almost Chaos beat out thousands of other entrants to secure a place as one of only eight bands selected to perform at this weekend’s event.
SchoolJam USA is a national competition that aims to recognize unsigned teenage musicians. In addition to playing at the Battle of Bands, each of the eight bands receive prize money for their school’s music program. The winning band will receive additional funds for their school, as well as $1,000 to purchase new equipment. The winners will also receive a private music video recording session on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus and a trip to Frankfurt, Germany to perform at the original SchoolJam festival.
Almost Choas made it to the competition’s semi-finals last November. They were selected as one of 110 bands out of more than 5,000 original entrants. Once in the semi-finals, a combination of public votes and judges’ scores catapulted them into the final eight.
With only a few days left until the competition, Almost Chaos is working furiously to get ready for their big performance. The band plans to perform three original songs during the allotted 15-minute performance period.
“We’ve been practicing almost every day,” says Jose Picazo Jr., the bands 15-year-old guitarist and lead singer. “Every time we practice, we’ve just been going over those three songs and perfecting every single little detail.”
Almost Chaos was formed when the then 11-year-old Picazo met Derek Mather, the band’s guitarist and Mack Hesson, the band’s drummer, at a music class called “Be in your own Band,” offered by Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation. Liam Gillespie became the band’s fourth and final member when he joined as their bassist.
The band has high hopes for this weekend’s event. They have evolved musically since their 2010 performance and are confident that their new material will impress the judges.
“Two years ago when we made it, we were still kind of young,” says Picazo. “I think we’re more experienced now. We have more songs than we did last time. We’re playing some newer songs, so hopefully it goes well.”